In the wake of the Islamic terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, many of the left’s summer soldiers and sunshine patriots are standing tall on Twitter expressing their solidarity.
As former Seattle Weekly cartoonist Molly Norris learned the hard way, that solidarity flows like the Platte River, a mile wide and an inch deep.
In 2010, Norris’ troubles began when she took public exception to the cravenness of the entertainment industry. In the way of background, Trey Parker and Matt Stone had created an animated Muhammad on their profanely irreverent cartoon show “South Park” in 2001.
At the time, no one protested their Muhammad. Progressives had not yet fully embraced Islam and all its sensitivities. When Parker and Stone brought Muhammad back for a guest slot to celebrate “South Park’s” 200th episode in April 2010, they knew full well the worm had turned.
The liberals who rule the entertainment industry would not allow anywhere near the same comic space to mock Islam as they would allow the pair to mock Mormonism in their soon-to-be hit Broadway show, “The Book of Mormon.”
So, Parker and Stone parodied the left’s dhimmi-like appeasement of Muslin sensitivities by putting Muhammad in a bear suit.
When even this gentle ribbing resulted in a death threat from an obscure Muslim blog, the network that airs “South Park,” the boldly progressive Comedy Central, blocked the image of the bear, bleeped out all references to Muhammad in the episode’s sequel and refused to post the episodes online.
“In the 14 years we’ve been doing ‘South Park’ we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind,” said Parker and Stone. “We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central, and they made a determination to alter the episode.”
The creators had written the episode to end with a speech “about intimidation and fear.” Although the speech did not mention Muhammad, said the pair, “It got bleeped, too.”
Industry peers did not exactly rush to their defense. Blogger and former Comedy Central employee Lindsay Robertson spoke for many in her scolding of Parker and Stone.
“They owe an apology to every Comedy Central employee they’ve put in danger in pursuit of their own glory and publicity,” said Robertson. “If god forbid something does [happen], it is on Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s shoulders.”
Not everyone in the media turned dhimmi. To support the “South Park” creators, Norris conceived the nicely mischievous new holiday, “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”
On April 20, 2010, Norris created a poster to announce the new holiday. On the poster, she drew humanized images of a coffee cup, a cherry, a box of pasta and other objects each claiming to be the likeness of Muhammad.
“Do your part to both water down the pool of targets,” wrote Norris bravely, “and, oh yeah, defend a little something our country is famous for (but maybe not for long? Comedy Central cooperated with terrorists and pulled the episode), the First Amendment.”
The cartoon quickly went viral, and Norris attracted a small cyber army eager to defend the cause, at least online. Just as quickly, some Islamic firebrands went postal. Norris came under increasing pressure and quickly backed off.
On April 29, Norris suggested the new holiday be deep-sixed. “Let’s call off ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’ by changing it to ‘Everybody Draw Al Gore Day’ instead,” Norris wrote. Challenging global warming was edgy, she must have realized, but not deadly, not yet anyhow.
“Enough Muhammad drawings have already been made to get the point across,” a frightened Norris pleaded. “At this juncture, such drawings are only hurtful to more liberal and moderate Muslims who have not done anything to endanger our First Amendment rights.”
Not satisfied with Norris’ groveling, Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki insisted she be made “a prime target of assassination.”
The FBI took the threat seriously enough to recommend Norris “go ghost.” In other words, Norris had to scrub her identity and disappear.
She may have anticipated a “Spartacus” moment, when her colleagues at this predictably self-satisfied, left-of-center rag would stand up and say, “I am Molly Norris.” That did not happen.
To justify the staff’s timidity, one Seattle Weekly colleague informed the readers, “Depictions of the prophet are considered sacrilege by many Muslims.” He and the other staff watched her vanish as passively as the Eloi watched their feckless pals vanish into the Morlock underground in H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine.”
Norris disappeared in July 2010 and has not been seen in Seattle since. A U.S. drone strike dispatched Anwar al-Awlaki to a rendezvous with his 72 virgins a year later, but Norris, alas, remains a ghost.
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